Blu-ray Review: Road Games (Collector’s Edition)

Trucker films were a mini-genre in the late ’70s although they mostly had the same theme of the independent truck being the new cowboy and the cops wanting to shut them down. Whether it be Smokey and the Bandit or Convoy, there was little mystery to the scripts that mostly focused on cross country chases and massive wrecks. From Down Under came Road Games. Australian Drive-in Cinema had already redefined road movies with The Cars the Ate Paris and Mad Max. Road Games was a bit more appealing for American tastes simply because the two leads were Americans roaming the long highway instead of locals.

Patrick Quid (Mike Hammer‘s Stacy Keach) is an American working as an independent long haul trucker in Australia. After a job, he pulls into town wanting to rent a motel room and rest for a couple days with Bosworth, his tame dingo. Before he can get out of his rig, he notices a guy with a van checking in with a hitchhiker he’d passed on the road and the “No Vacancy” light flashing on. Even more frustrating is he get a gig hauling pork that means there’s not going to be much rest in the back of his truck. He needs the payday so he takes a nap. While he’s asleep, inside the motel things don’t go too well with the hitchhiker and the van driver. So Quid picks up the pigs and hits the road to Perth. Quid does a lot of talking as if Bosworth is really talking to him. They enjoy looking out the front window into the cars of the drivers next to him and predicting their lives. They also play little games to kill the time on the extra long haul. It’s during the ride that he first hears a radio report about the dismembered killing at his previous stop. He also notices the same women hitchhiking on the side of the road. But he’s not supposed to pick up hitchhikers. He does get stuck picking up an abandoned wife when she tricks him into stopping. She’s the one who notices the van driver on the side of the road digging a hole. This leads Quid to thinking that the van driver is the real killer. Eventually he picks up the same woman hitchhiking who turns out to be Pamela Rushworth (Halloween‘s Jamie Lee Curtis), a runaway from a rather connected family. Her sassy self goes drawn in by the idea that the van driver is the highway killer. Things go wrong when the duo try to trap the guy at a rest stop. Things get even more twisted when the cops think Quid’s the real killer.

Road Games is a great thriller and road movie. Keach pulls off the guy talking to his dingo role since he’s already perfected being a bit off in Cheech and Chong’s Up In Smoke. Jamie Lee Curtis is a bit more than a scream queen as she lets her curiosity get the better of her when sniffing around the van. Like The Road Warrior, the driver’s pet steals all his scenes since there’s no way to not watch the dingo take the lead. The movie is both suspenseful and maintaining a certain level of comedy. This includes when Quad uses his truck to atomize a boat on a trailer. Director Richard Franklin was able to flip his Hitchcockian influences in Road Games to land the gig directing Psycho II. Road Games is a fine time of Ozploitation on the Outback road. You’ll be in it for the long haul

The video is 2.35:1 anamorphic. The transfer brings out the grainy nature of the film and the harsh conditions on the highway. The audio is 5.1 DTS-HD MA so you’re in the cab with Quad and Bosworth and feel that diesel rumble. The movie is subtitled.

Australian Long Haul (13:25) is a recent interview with Actor Stacy Keach. He talks about the what he had to do to get cast as the lead in an Australian movie at the time. He had to prove he was a big enough star to be a benefit to the film. Jamie Lee Curtis had a hard time proving it. Keach talks about driving the truck across Australia including the plague of caterpillars that covered the highway.

Audio Commentary With Cinematographer Vincent Monton, Production Coordinator Helen Watts, And Costume Designer Aphrodite Kondos, Moderated By Filmmaker Mark Hartley. They go deep into the cross country production.

1980 Script Read (116:30) is an audio track of Producer/Director Richard Franklin and actors Stacy Keach And Marion Edwards

Composer Brian May Music Demos (4:15) accompanied By Stills And Poster Gallery. This is the rough of the theme. Please note that this is the Brian May that scored numerous Australian films including Mad Max. He is not the guitarist from Queen.

Audio Commentary With Producer/Director Richard Franklin has him talk about the Hitchcock influences. This was created for a previous home video version since Franklin passed away in 2007.

Kangaroo Hitchcock: The Making Of Road Games (20:23) features interviews with Director Richard Franklin And Actor Stacey Keach. Franklin talks about building up suspense in the film. He speaks about how the first film he remember seeing was Psycho. While a student at USC’s film school. He got to meet Hitchcock while in school. Screenwriter Everett De Roche (Razorback) wrote the script as Rear Window on the road. Franklin talks about his USC classmate was John Carpenter which led him to contacting Curtis.

Extended Interviews From Mark Hartley’s Documentary Not Quite Hollywood (63:19) features Jamie Lee Curtis, Stacy Keach, Director Richard Franklin, Stunt Coordinator Grant Page, Screenwriter Everett De Roche, Cinematographer Vincent Monton, and Assistant Director Tom Burstall. You should track down a copy of Not Quite HolywoodLecture On The Making Of Road Games (130:22) is a video with Richard Franklin, Co-producer Barbi Taylor, and Composer Brian May. They are introduced By critic Tom Ryan. This was shot on video in 1980 so it has visual glitches of analog tape.

Profile On Richard Franklin (24:35) is a TV special from 1981. It shows more behind the scene of Road Games. Plus we see Franklin when he met Alfred Hitchcock.

Audio Interview With Richard Franklin (23:28) is from 2001. He talks of his USC classmates that included John Carpenter, George Lucas (who left when Franklin arrived) and John Milius. He has a great tale of meeting Sam Peckinpah. This was done before an audience.

Audio Interview With Actor Stacy Keach (9:10) was recorded over the phone back in 2016. He talks about the rise of interest in Road Games. He recounts the adventure in making the film.

Audio Interview With Stunt Coordinator And Actor Grant Page (32:48) is about the film being reissued on Blu-ray. Grant was both the killer and the stunt coordinator.

Gallery (32:18) includes Stills, Production Shots, Storyboards, Newspaper Reviews, Promotional and Artwork Materials. There’s also an essay on the film between the material.

Theatrical Trailer (2:11) sells the film as a thriller on the highway.

Scream Factory presents Road Games: Collector’s Edition. Directed by: Richard Franklin. Screenplay by: Everett De Roche. Starring: Stacy Keach, Jamie Lee Curtis, Marion Edward & Grant Page. Rated: PG. Running Time: 101. Released: November 12, 2019.

Tags: , , ,